oa African Zoology - The ecology of sandy beaches in southern Africa

Volume 16, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1562-7020
  • E-ISSN: 2224-073X



The physical features, macrofauna and meiofauna of four exposed sandy beaches along the southern coast of South Africa were quantitatively investigated. All beaches had medium to fine sands with relatively poor to moderate macrofauna and very rich meiofauna. The results are compared with the present knowledge of the southern African coastline. Sandy beaches types around the southern African coastline are summarized according to geomorphology and wave action and three zoogeographic provinces are recognized. The macrofauna is dominated by crustaceans, mostly scavengers, on the warmer east coast and by molluscs, mostly filterfeeders, on the temperate south coast. Relationships between diversity and abundance of macrofauna, beach slope and particle size are analysed in detail. Intertidal zonation of macrofauna is descriptionbed and a zonation scheme based on crustaceans proposed. Relationships between meiofauna composition and particle size are descriptionbed as well as intertidal distribution patterns of the meiofauna. The role of surf circulation patterns and macrofaunal food sources in determining beach trophic structure is emphasized.

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